I've had a hard time with Easter this year. Normally, this is the holiday that brings me the greatest joy. Normally, I am the one pulling out all the stops. We prepare throughout Lent, we analyze the walk that lead Jesus from the garden to the cross, I challenge my kids to put themselves in the shoes of Pilate, Barrabas, Judas, Peter. We talk. We pray. We digest.
And then, we rejoice. On Resurrection Sunday, we burst into full bloom and sun ourselves in the absolute peace that comes from knowing that Jesus has overcome.
It is a good season. It is a beautiful holiday. It is everything that I love passing on to my children.
And this year it struck me that, perhaps, Mr. Blandings and I have been doing it wrong.
My planning started out with the same excited hum that I always feel just prior to Lent. I pinned some fun crafts on Pinterest, thought of all the fun hands-on ways that I could draw my little ones in, pictured the bright smiles we all seem to have on Easter morning when we greet one another with the required, "He is risen!" "He is risen, indeed!"
Everything was shaping up to be pretty darn wonderful, right up until the point where I stumbled upon a section of Acts that gave me pause. Don't think I'm daft for asking, but did you realize that the main reason that the church met was to celebrate the resurrection? The focal point of every meeting was what we call communion. Yes, God was worshipped. Yes, letters were read. Yes, the fellowship of believers encouraged one another. But read closely and you get the distinct feeling that if Paul walked into most Protestant churches today, he'd be a little lost. Unless it was the first Sunday of the month, of course. In that case--bring on the crackers and juice!
(I'm not even going to go into what constituted communion in the early church, or the various Protestant denominations today who offer weekly communion. Those topics could fill entire posts of their own, and I'm no expert on them anyway, sooooo ...)
After reading through those sections of Acts which pertain to the gathering of believers, I was nudged into an uncomfortable spot. I took my questions to Mr. Blandings, and together, we discussed, we pondered, we researched, we prayed. We prayed a lot. And in the end, both of us were convicted.
Convicted of what, you ask? Easy. We were convicted of turning the resurrection into a holiday, a special event, something trotted out and celebrated and put back into a box until the next spring. We were convicted of not impressing upon our children daily the message that Jesus suffered, died, and was buried, then rose again in accordance to the Scriptures. We were convicted of being too comfortable with teaching that is more about practical how-to applications and less about the immediacy of the gospel.
This newfound conviction changed the way I am viewing Easter this year--in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it changes much more than just this one season. I will be making Empty Tomb cookies tonight with my children ... but I'll probably do it a few more times this year, too. We'll have those yummy sticky rolls where the marshmallows evaporate to leave a gaping hole ... but why can't they be a random treat throughout the year? "Giving something up" might just become a new way of life around here. And I think that the newfound practice of communion during family worship just might be here to stay. In other words, maybe Easter will be celebrated all year long.
I don't think I'm the first person to be led to this place, and I don't think it makes me "special" or "more of a Chrsitian" than anyone else. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong, either, in pouring love and effort and exuberance into a very special culmination holiday. But I know that two hearts in this household--mine and Mr. Blandings--have both been drawn into a deeper walk with Christ thanks to this calling, and I'm happy in the knowledge that I can celebrate my favorite holiday year-round.